There's no doubt that J.K. Schaffer is a rock-solid contributor, capable of being a quality backup middle backer. Through four preseason games this year, Schaffer led the team with 21 stops, three more than Jayson DiManche -- this year's undrafted free agent darling. Schaffer added a quarterback sack Thursday night and his interception against the Colts was only the second for the Bengals this preseason.
The question is, did Schaffer do enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster?
"That's above my pay grade," Schaffer said following the game where he generated seven stops, second on the team behind DiManche. "I think it means something. I know I went out there and played hard. I left it all out there. It's out of my hands from here. I think the preseason went pretty well for the most part. I still have to get things cleaned up and get better at."
Prior to Emmanuel Lamur's shoulder injury in the first quarter Thursday night, Schaffer appeared to be the first linebacker out on a projected six-man roster. Now with the uncertain nature of Lamur's status, things have changed.
If Lamur goes on IR with the designation to return, Schaffer would most likely be released and then, once he clears waivers, signed to the 53-man roster. If Lamur goes on IR without the designation, the team could make that move without the risk of another team claiming the Cincinnati native. Cincinnati could keep Lamur on the 53-man roster, and add Schaffer as a seventh linebacker if Lamur's timeframe is more optimistic.
If Schaffer makes the roster, it's a dream realized on a bucket list for an emerging linebacker.
"It would be a dream come true, that's for sure," Schaffer said via Bengals.com. "I've tried not to think about it too much during the preseason because I don't want to put too much pressure on my shoulders. Just go out there and play. But now the preseason's over I can kind of start thinking about that. We'll see what happens the next few days."